if you want to be a programmer for the industry, then Maya is the way to go .. more money and more demands for skilled programmers.
Ofcause Maya is harder to learn than other softwares, since its so huge and complicated, but do yourself a favoer and see if you can get a student version of Maya since the watermarks in PLE is going to make you go nuts !!
Senior 3D Artist,
Maya Software Manager & Maya Instructor
LEGO Systems A/S